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Information retrieval and use

Quantitative evaluation

Too many results? You can edit your search

  • by using a more precise term
  • by avoiding truncation and typing the entire word as a search term
  • by adding limiting searchwords using the AND operator
  • by using the proximity operator if using AND gives a too wide result
  • by leaving something out from your search set by using the NOT operator e.g. storage NOT "data storage".
  • by searching from a specific field (title, abstract, keywords etc.) instead from all available text
  • by limiting to a more precise  discipline
  • by limiting by publication year or resource type

Not enough results? Widen

  • by checking your correct spelling and the language in the database if you get zero results
  • by browsing your search result to find new suitable searchwords
  • by truncating your searchwords to get more alternative searchwords
  • by looking for synonyms to your searchwords and combining them using the  OR operator  "mobile phone" OR "cell phone"
  • by using a wider concept e.g. instead of "solar energy", try "renewable energy"
  • by leaving out less important words which have been connected to your serch using the  AND operator
  • by searching in all fields if you have originally searched in the title/alstract/keywords fields
  • by trying other databases

Evaluating the content

Did you not find the right kind of references?

  • Check if you can limit your search by discipline. This works in e.g. Scopus.
  • Try other databases.
  • Check the meanings of your searchwords in a dictionary.
  • If you have used abbreviations, notice that the same combination of letters can have multiple meanings.

To evaluate your search result, you can use many tools in addition to visual estimation. 

  1. In the Scopus database, you can use the Analyze search results tool. The system observes the search result from different viewpoints and produces both numeric and graphical data of the content.  You get a curve showing the changes in the number of documents published each year. This helps you to evaluate possible changes in the amount of research done about the topic and perhaps to limit your search to a suitable  time period.  You also see the most important journals and conferences, which deal with your topic. There is also an illustration of the different disciplines,which are present in the results set. Via that figure, you can limit your search to the most suitable field of science.
  2. In most databases -- and in Primo -- you can sort your search result in multiple ways. You may want to sort your results according to relevance or publication date, In some databases it is possible to sort the reference list according to the number of citations, which the reference has received.
  3. While working on a thesis, many students wish they could find the full texts of articles in the Internet. In Primo, most sources are available online. Moreover, in e.g. Scopus you find a link to the Library catalogue to see if the text is available online to you as a LUT student (or staff). Check also other databases for the ability to limit your search to only those documents, which are available to you in full text.

Evaluating the quality

In research, source criticism is very important whether it concerns the reliability of information, its content or relevance. Especially in case of Internet sources you should be aware of the fact that no one evaluates or oversees the information there. Electronic and other information in university libraries always meet the basic quality criteria. However, in every case you are responsible for using reliable and correct information in your studies.

Second-hand citing is not good practice. You should always use the primary source in your work. Do not cite a document via another (secondary) document.

Internet sources

If you use Internet search engines (like Google and Google Scholar) remember to be extra careful with the correctness of the contents. We suggest you always rely on your own university's collections in demanding information search tasks. 

If you use Google Scholar in your searches, check the settings so that you have access to the full texts according to your university's license agreements. According to Google Scholar, "online access to library subscriptions is usually restricted to patrons of that library. You may need to login with your library password, use a campus computer, or configure your browser to use a library proxy." Therefore, add Library links in the settings of Scholar and save them. 

Camptured image showing the settings menu and adding LUT to Linrary Links.

The difference between a scientific and a popular source

In your research, the main part of your information sources should be scientific. Therefore, it is important to be able to tell the difference between scientific and popular sources. Popular publications are often named 'magazines' and scientific ones 'journals'. Newspapers and trade journals are considered popular. In engineering, trade journals are important in delivering occupational information. You may refer to some popular sources in your research but it cannot rely only on those sources.

Scientific journals are written by experts and academics. The language used in scientific journals is academic and technical. Specialized vocabulary of the discipline is often used. Articles in scientific journals often follow the IMRD format: introduction, methods, results and discussion. The articles always contain a bibliography and in-text references. Scientific journals contain reports of original research, in-depth analysis of issues related to the discipline and academic level book reviews. Academic journals are peer reviewed. It means that experts of the discipline have evaluated the contents, language, research methods, and results. Peer-reviewing is normally anonymous. 

A scholarly article presents scientific information which is based on scientific research. It follows a set format, which is explained in the document  Anatomy of a Scholarly Article. Study the document carefully!


Evaluating journals


Study the Publication forum classifications

The Publication forum is a Finnish classification forum for all disciplines. You can find classifications for journals, conferences and book publishers. Classification levels are 1= basic level, 2= leading level and 3=highest level.

Study Impact Factor (IF) classification 

The Impact Factor (IF) is calculated by dividing the number of citations to a journal's articles by the number of published articles in that journal during a time period. Journal and High Cited data (JHCD) is the database where you dan see these indicators.

The Scopus database contains indicators called Cite Score. It is calculated the same way as the impact factor.

Is the article peer-reviewed? - Study the Ulrichsweb database.

Ulrichsweb Serials Directory contains information of about 300 000 journals. symbol indicates that the journal is peer reviewed.